South Charleston coach Donnie Mays knows first-hand that Capital can litter the field with game-breaking players on special teams.
The best way to combat it? Don’t let them get started.
Special teams will definitely be on Mays’ mind Friday when the Black Eagles visit University of Charleston Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. date with Capital.
In last year’s 42-13 setback to the Cougars, SC gave up a 66-yard punt return touchdown to Chance Knox in the first half and a 91-yard kickoff return score to DeShaun James in the second half.
“We have to be able to stop those guys,’’ Mays said, “and special teams is one of the biggest areas they get touchdowns from. Last year, they burned us on that one punt, and we gave up a punt return [touchdown] last week, too [against George Washington]. It’s not something we’re really happy about. We’ve got to get better in that area because Capital is good enough to take it to the house.’’
Capital has won its last seven meetings with SC, but three of those decisions came by five points or fewer. The Black Eagles had a successful opener last week, downing GW 28-14 as Caiden Davis ran for two touchdowns and freshman quarterback Trey Dunn hit Qwailei Turner with a 45-yard scoring strike.
Davis (21 carries, 62 yards) found himself carrying much of the load in the Black Eagles’ ground game last week when Zeiqui Lawton left in the first half with a knee injury. In fact, each team in Friday’s showdown had a key player leave with an injury in its opener, and their status remains day to day — Capital lost shutdown cornerback Karrington Hill (wrist) during its 28-13 loss to Johnson Central, Kentucky.
“He and Zeiqui were going to split carries,’’ Mays said of Davis, “but Zeiqui got a little banged up, and he took the bulk of the carries. [Quarterback] Trey Dunn carried the ball, too, since we felt part of the game plan was to establish the run.’’
Turner donated a pair of big plays in the passing game, catching a 42-yarder from Dunn in addition to his TD grab. It was a welcome sight for Mays, especially since starting wideout Samahji Simon remains sidelined with injuries, and also since Turner has missed his share of time with ailments.
“He’s battled some hamstring and thigh issues,’’ Mays said of Turner, “and he’s getting back slowly but surely. We’ve got to get him out there and get him more reps in the game.’’
Capital coach Jon Carpenter wasn’t displeased with his team’s effort last week in its fourth-ever meeting with Kentucky power Johnson Central. However, the Cougars need to come up with more than 70 total yards, which is what they had against the Golden Eagles, including minus-20 yards on 18 rushing plays.
“We’re going to have to do both this week,’’ Carpenter said of balancing his offense. “We weren’t very good at either one last week.
“I’ve got to get them coached up a little bit better. Our kids played as hard as you can play. We’ll just try not to do too much and get our kids comfortable and execute something.’’
Sophomore quarterback Evan Landers, making his first start, was 8 of 20 for 90 yards for Capital, but at least three of his passes were dropped. He had a string of six straight incompletions in the second half as the Cougars failed to register a first down following halftime.